All England grass a tonic for Tomic
REUTERS - Australia's Bernard Tomic thinks he is playing some of the best grasscourt tennis of his career and is in a good place off the court as he heads into the Wimbledon championships main draw for the seventh time.
The 23-year-old's campaign at the All England Club ended in the third round last year and was followed by a very public and bitter row with Tennis Australia over what he said was their lack of backing for him.
Since then, there have been rows over his suitability to be part of Australia's Olympic team, which he defused by withdrawing his name from consideration, and the now traditional woes of his claycourt season.
After a second-round departure at the French Open that surprised few given his dislike of the Roland Garros surface, however, Tomic has rediscovered his form on grass at 's-Hertogenbosch and Queen's Club.
"I'd say probably it's the best it's been leading into Wimbledon," the 19th seed told Australia's Fox Sports TV.
"I managed to play two grasscourt tournaments, played really well, making the quarters in the Netherlands and the semis at Queen's.
"I feel like I'm playing some of my best tennis on grass and now we're here at the famous Wimbledon tournament and I'm ready to go."
Tomic made his grand slam breakthrough when he reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals as a qualifier in 2011 and it remains his favourite of the sport's four majors.
"It was a huge moment for my career that turned everything around and I always look back on that leading into any grasscourt tournament," he said.
"I take back that memory and I'm always in a position to play my best tennis on grass. On grass, I always seem to be intense and on my feet and I always seem to play really well.
Lapses of concentration and intensity have been a problem for Tomic throughout a career that promised so much when he won two junior grand slam titles.
Allegations of giving up, or tanking, have dogged him in recent years and reached fever pitch when he faced match point at the Madrid Open in May with his racket upside down.
He knows, however, that he will have to be on his toes for his first round match against tricky Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco, who he beat at Queen's Club to take a 4-1 lead in their career head-to-head.
"Last week was an incredible match," Tomic said.
"He's going to come out swinging, doing some different things, he knows he's down in the record against me but that's not going to stop him playing well."
Off court, the presence of Lleyton Hewitt in London should also ensure no repeat of the rows with Tennis Australia.
"I'm happy now, I've got a good team around me, and I'm at my favourite tournament as well," he added.
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)